Project (2013)

Collectivities and Individuals: Freud and Spencer

In the newly emerging discipline of psychology in the middle of the nineteenth century, individuals occupied center stage. Yet two seminal figures, Herbert Spencer and Sigmund Freud—in their explanatory mechanisms of selected, problematized, features of individuals—assumed relations of the dependency of individuals on (past or present) collectivities. The collectivity became an indispensable factor/component in their construction of individuals, in their description and analysis of them, and in their explanation of both normal and pathological individual development. Furthermore, the deployment of the collectivity was perceived as supplying the grounds for claims of necessity and universality, i.e., for claims of their psychology being a science. Freud’s construction of collectivities would was the principal focus of this project.